Graduate Student Spotlight

Ph.D. Candidate Stauffer Receives O’Donnell Grant and NPIHP

Lauren Stauffer, doctoral student, History Dept, University of ConnecticutPh.D. Candidate Lauren Stauffer received two announcements this spring that will help further her research on NATO. First, the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs awarded Stauffer the O’Donnell Grant for research at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and at the Scowcroft Institute Archives. Both collections are housed at Texas A&M University.

Second, the Woodrow Wilson Center accepted Stauffer into the Center’s Nuclear Proliferation International History Project’s (NPIHP) 2020 Nuclear History Boot Camp. The Boot Camp selects a handful of international participants from disciplines such as history, political science, and international affairs, to travel to Rome. The participants gather at the University of Roma Tre at a former ACE High NATO communications relay site in the village of Allumiere, Italy, for ten days of research and discussion.

 

Sopcak-Joseph Ph.D. (’19) Wins McNeil Center Dissertation Prize

Amy Sopcak-Joseph2020A hearty congratulations to UConn History Ph.D. (’19) alum, Amy Sopcak-Joseph, for receiving the Zuckerman Dissertation Prize in American Studies from the McNeil Center for Early American History at the University of Pennsylvania. The Zuckerman prize is awarded to “the best dissertation connecting American history (in any period) with literature and/or art… evaluated for the seriousness and originality with which the dissertation engages relationships among history, art and/or literature, the significance of the treatment to scholarship in the field, and the overall quality of the writing.” Sopcak-Joseph’s dissertation, titled “Fashioning American Women: Godey’s Lady’s Book, Female Consumers, and Periodical Publishing in the Nineteenth Century,” wonderfully explored the production, dissemination, content, and reception of an exceptionally popular antebellum American periodical called Godey’s Lady’s Book.

Well done, Amy!

Luisa Arrieta Receives UConn Digital Humanities Fellowship

Luisa Arrieta ProfileWe are pleased to announce that Ph.D. Candidate Luisa Arrieta has received the UConn Greenhouse Studios Diversity Fellowship in Digital Humanities for 2020-2022. Arrieta is one of two doctoral students to receive the Fellowship, which aims “to enhance the academic and professional experience of students from historically underrepresented groups by providing two years of hands-on experience in digital humanities research and method with Greenhouse Studios in lieu of regular teaching assistant duties.” This opportunity will enable Arrieta to further her research interests that relate to cultural nationalism and citizenship, museums and visual narratives, African diaspora, popular culture, and human rights in the Americas.

Ph.D. David Evans Earns Human Rights Institute Fellowship

David Evans, doctoral student, History Dept., UConnCongratulations to Ph.D. Candidate David Evans for receiving a Dissertation Research Fellowship from the UConn Human Rights Institute! Evans is one of two recipients for 2020 who will receive $5,000 to support their primary research. His research interests include human rights, particularly as it relates to the right to adequate food, humanitarianism and foreign aid, and US foreign relations.

Danielle Dumaine and Nathan Braccio Recognized by Aetna Awards

The 2020 Aetna Graduate Critical Writing Award recognized the work of two newly minted History Ph.D.s. Danielle Dumaine received 2nd place and Nathan Braccio received an honorable mention. The award is sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing and recognizes excellent critical nonfiction composed by a graduate student. Winners are awarded cash prizes and publicly recognized at the annual Aetna Celebration of Student Writing.

 

Ph.D. Candidate Nicole Breault Receives Huntington Fellowship

Nicole Breault, doctoral student, History Department, UConnCongratulations to Ph.D Candidate Nicole Breault who was named the Robert L. Middlekauff Fellow at The Huntington Library for two months in 2020-2021. This short-term award will further Nicole’s research for her dissertation titled “The Night Watch of Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America”.

Ph.D. Student Kathryn Angelica Receives NYPL Fellowship

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Kathryn Angelica who has received a competitive Short-Term Research Fellowship from the New York Public Library (NYPL). Kathryn was awarded the maximum short-term fellowship for a total of 4 weeks between August 2020 and Fall 2021 (shifted due to Covid-19). At the NYPL, she will look at the United States Sanitary Commission records, specifically all the women led branches, including the Women’s Central Relief Association. 

Ph.D. Student Erik Freeman Receives Charles Redd Fellowship

Erik Freeman, doctoral student, History Dept., University of ConnecticutAmong the list of 2020 award recipients of the Brigham Young University (BYU) Charles Redd Center for Western Studies is UConn’s Erik Freeman. With a project titled, “The Mormon International: Communitarian Politics and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1830–1890,” Freeman received the Charles Redd Fellowship Award in Western American History. He is one of five recipients, and competed against other doctoral students from departments of history, english, political science, and languages and literature.

The award will enable Freeman to spend up to one month researching in the Center’s Special Collections. The Special Collections has 14 full-time curators and more than 9,000 manuscripts. Additionally, the collection houses almost 1 million photographic images, more than 300,000 rare books, and extensive manuscript materials documenting 19th and 20th century Western American history.

Congratulations, Erik!

Aimee Loiselle Ph.D. ’19 Receives OAH Lerner-Scott Prize

Aimee Loiselle, Doctoral Student, History Department, University of ConnecticutA huge congratulations to Aimee Loiselle, who just won the Lerner-Scott Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in U.S. Women’s History from the Organization of American Historians!

The OAH announcement follows below:

Aimee Loiselle, Smith College (dissertation completed at the University of Connecticut, under the direction of Micki McElya with Christopher Clark and Peter Baldwin). “Creating Norma Rae: The Erasure of Puerto Rican Needleworkers and Southern Labor Activists in a Neoliberal Icon” is a stunningly successful combination of original scholarship, compelling prose, and sophisticated argumentation. The iconic 1979 film Norma Rae, starring Sally Field as union organizer Crystal Lee Sutton, is Loiselle’s point of departure. The movie depicts Sutton, a white woman, as a courageous underdog who spearheads the unionization of southern textile workers. Analyzing the gendered, racialized, and colonial narratives embedded in the film, Loiselle shows that American popular culture defines “the working class” as white and prefers mythic tales about heroic individuals to true stories about multiracial collective action. She then highlights the work and activism of Puerto Rican needleworkers in the Northeast; these women unionized and battled to stay afloat economically during the 1970s and 1980s, as industries increasingly sought cheaper labor wherever available to compete in the global marketplace. By employing a transnational framework and a cross-disciplinary lens, Loiselle challenges the centrality of white southern mill workers in our histories and interrogates how culture shapes neoliberal political economy. Her dissertation’s contributions to the fields of labor, gender, and cultural studies make it a fitting recipient of the Lerner-Scott prize.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Keeping Up With Marc Reyes

Marc Reyes is a History Ph.D. Candidate with research interests spanning Marc Reyes 2019 Picforeign relations history, economic and political development, South Asian studies, and the histories of science and technology. A proud Midwesterner – born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri – Marc recently completed a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship in Delhi, India from 2018-2019, and soon will be returning home to undertake a doctoral fellowship at the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology. Marc’s dissertation “seeks to enable scholars of India, of foreign relations, and of science and technology to better understand how a range of Indians imagined what nuclear energy could mean for their nation’s future.” In addition to his doctoral studies, Marc also serves as an editor for Contingent Magazine. 

In the most literal sense of trying to keep up with Marc and his impressive list of accomplishments, please enjoy the following Graduate Student Spotlight!

 

 

Q: To begin, where are you right now and what are you doing?

A: Right now, I am in Austria. I am spending two weeks in Vienna conducting research at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) archive. This week I am reviewing IAEA Board of Governor reports and official minutes of IAEA Meetings. Next week I turn my attention to the archive’s substantial collection of press clippings and mission reports.

 

Q: From 2018-2019, you were in India on a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship. Could you share the impact that this experience had on your research, development of your project, and broader understanding of India.

 

A: The Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship filled in large gaps I had in my research, but also raised a lot of interesting questions and threw a ton of new information (at least to me) my way. At times it can be daunting sifting and making sense of all this research, but more and more I see the people and events that make up each chapter and how I will string everything together to make sense of the larger story. The biggest takeaway from my Fulbright experience was I can see how this project will end and I am excited to get there.

 

As for better understanding India, I had opportunities to visit a few states and see different parts of the country. Experiencing the country up close, you definitely see the differences – in languages, customs, and food  – between north and south India. I was based in Delhi so my knowledge is best regarding the city. Delhi can be an overwhelming place, with lots of people and noise at all hours, but after a while, a familiar rhythm sets in and you start to notice when construction crews start and stop working or when vegetable sellers come around. India is a special place. My family and I look forward to many future visits to see again the wonderful friends we have there.

 

Q: What was your experience working in the role of a representative of the United States, and American academia, through the Fulbright Program? Did this experience resonate with your studies in US foreign policy?

 

A: The Fulbright office, especially the United States-India Educational Foundation (who administers the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship), emphasizes from the beginning of your fellowship the importance of people-to-people diplomacy. One of your jobs while there is to meet people. It’s not hard, just listen and ask questions. It’s the best way to learn about a new place and the people that call it home. This was true at my affiliated university, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). I did a few lectures for the students there, but what was even better was talking to the students there before and after my talks or having a chat over chai. I was happy to talk and learn about their own projects and suggest U.S. scholars or works about their research topics. Even now I’ll message my friends there about a fellowship opportunity that looks promising or a new work they should check out. I feel as though I am a member of two great academic communities, one at UConn and the other at JNU.

 

When it comes to U.S. foreign policy, I had the privilege of visiting the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi a couple times. I saw the diverse and difficult work U.S. diplomats do and it is truly inspiring to see what tackle on any given day. You develop a newfound appreciation for their service and when you’re in India, you feel better knowing they have your back.

 

Q: How have you transitioned out of the Fulbright mindset, and what is next for your project?

 

A: What helped my transition was seeing family and friends again. From India, I flew to Kansas City, Missouri (my hometown) and spent the holidays with family. Then in early January I drove up to Connecticut and caught up with friends. Having a few weeks off was what I needed to recharge and prepare for this latest research trip. After Austria, I will take up a two-month doctoral fellowship at the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology and press on writing dissertation chapters.

 

Q: In addition to being a Fulbright fellow and earning more accolades, such as the World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship from the Smith-Richardson Foundation, you also are an editor for Contingent Magazine. What attracted you to Contingent Magazine? What is the most rewarding aspect of being an editor?

Contingent Header A: What attracted me to Contingent Magazine was a feeling that this could be something special and I knew from the start I wanted to be a part of it. I don’t usually have a fear of missing out on something, but I had a strong sense to stay with this project and see where it went. For me, the most rewarding aspect of being an editor is seeing an article go from pitch to publish. It takes time and a lot of work but our contributors produce some great writing. I see my role as helping good ideas become great articles and I want every piece to find its audience. I’m always pleased whenever our writers tell us that they have been trying to publish their piece for a while but hadn’t found the right place for it until they discovered Contingent. I love that we can be the home for the piece that means so much to you.

 

I must add I am incredibly fortunate that my Contingent colleagues are Bill Black and Erin Bartram. Even when I was in India, we made our editorial triad work and I think the magazine is better for it. I have not known Bill as long, but Erin and I met at UConn. She is a history department alumnus and her dissertation defense was the first I ever attended. I still remember her students showing up to it, wearing t-shirts with quotations from her dissertation. Years later I remain amazed at the type of person that inspires people like that. We stayed in touch and I was honored when she asked if I wanted to be a part of what became Contingent. It feels great to build something and I’ll be forever proud of our plucky magazine. I encourage folks, especially UConn alumni, to check out the magazine. We publish features, reviews, and shorter pieces, including profiles of historians and the work they do. We believe that history is for everyone and that people are hungry for all types of historical topics. If you check us out and like what we publish, then share our articles and spread the good word about us. We exist entirely on donor-support and have built the magazine one donation at a time.

 

Q: Finally, could you share your favorite research find from the past year, and why?

 

A: It’s tough to say a favorite, but one amusing find that stands out is this document between P.N. Haksar, who was Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s chief advisor, and U.S. Ambassador to India Chester Bowles. The story goes that in 1967, Gandhi sent birthday wishes to the leader of North Vietnam and the U.S. was furious she sent a congratulatory message to a leader whose forces were fighting U.S. troops. There was also a rumor that she only did this to needle the U.S. who had placed strings on aid to India and demonstrate to her citizens that she could take U.S. assistance but not be a lackey to the United States. I had come across passing references to the incident in books, but the source was either another book or hard to decipher. Sure enough, the P.N. Haksar papers at the Nehru Library in New Delhi confirmed the story. Haksar told Bowles that India had sent Minh a similar message the year before and nobody from the U.S. had complained about it. Haksar described it as a perfunctory message with language they often used when wishing happy birthday to any foreign leader. The episode revealed how a single message could complicate U.S.-Indian relations and even birthday greetings have a history of their own.

 

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